The Road to Laconia
I rolled out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin late in the day on the road to Laconia, New Hampshire. My ride is a 2016 Harley-Davidson Ultra Low in Purple Fire/Blackberry Smoke with only six miles on the clock. I call her “Purple Rain.”
Normally I try to avoid Interstates and toll roads at all costs, but the rain clouds loomed large all around me. I jumped on Interstate 94 and rode like hell south towards Chicago, Illinois.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to stop at the Mars Cheese Castle or Grandpa’s Cheese Barn along the way, but I make a mental note to check them out on the return trip.
The clouds eventually retreated and I hopped on state highway 41 South, just north of Chicago, to get a little closer to Lake Michigan.
I love the Great Lakes and took a trip around them back in the summer of 2001. The lakes are HUGE and really look like seas if you haven’t seen them up close and in person. Lake Superior is a must see and by far my personal favorite.
I rode through Evanston, Grosse Point and other towns that look like the location for a John Hughes film like Sixteen Candles or Ferris Buller’s Day Off. There are lots of fancy houses with manicured lawns surround by forests of green trees everywhere.
It was close to rush hour and despite my better judgment I took Lake Shore Drive into downtown Chicago. LSD is the best way to see the city without stopping.
Traffic was bumper-to-bumper and slow enough to take in the Sears Tower, the John Hancock Building and all the amazing Art Deco buildings.
The scenery gets sketchier as you ride into Indiana, so I cut down to highway 30 to avoid the toll roads. It was a good choice and I roared past farm after farm towards Fort Wayne on the purple Harley.
Later that night after I checked into a cheap motel, I stopped for a cold beer at a bar called Brandy’s. The place was mostly empty for a weeknight but still had plenty of local color.
The bartender asked me where I was from and I told her about my ride and the big motorcycle rally in New Hampshire. She asked me if I was living the dream and I had to think about it for a moment. I finished my beer, smiled and said yes.
I woke up to a light drizzle in Indiana that fortunately only lasted an hour or so and washed the dust off of Purple Rain.
I repacked my gear and high tailed it down highway 30 hoping to find a decent cup of coffee along the way. No such luck, just more farms, a mostly blue sky and the wonderful smell of petrichor filled my nostrils.
The V-Twin 103 engine kept my feet toasty and I took Interstate 71 to 76 to 80 near Youngstown. A 10-mile long traffic jam welcomed me to Pennsylvania and I pulled over to remove a few layers.
The Ultra Low weighs 861 pounds dry, at least 900 with my gear and another 200 lbs. with me on it. What would you do?
A-n-y-w-a-y, once I got past the gnarly traffic jam, I continued on 80 East, took a detour on highway 322 near Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.
The winds really started to pick up as I made it across the state, but the Project RUSHMORE Batwing fairing on the Ultra Limited is a serious champ.
You can control the airflow on the top center of the console and each side of the fairing. Gloves are really optional.
After a pit stop, I made my way through the Poconos and into the Garden State. Crossing the Delaware Water Gap on a Harley is by far, the best way to do it.
A canyon of green hills welcomes you, the Delaware River twists and runs through it. Fortunately, New Jersey is one of the skinniest states in our Union and I managed to see friends, family and even surprise my mom on her birthday. (Thanks to Johnny Mayday for the playbook!)
The ride through New England was rainy and damp. Typical for this time of year so it is best to plan for the worse.
Despite the weather the ride is certainly worth it. If you want to get there quick you can take Interstate 93 but I meandered through the byways and clipped New York, Connecticut, and Vermont along the way.
Check out the latest photos from Laconia here.
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